'Bow waves' expected to hit Olympia budget in 2023

For Olympia to continue homelessness, climate and crisis programs, funding sources need to be found


Olympia will see a continuation of costs for homelessness, climate, solid waste, and crisis response programs amounting to $2.2 million in 2023, Finance Director Aaron BeMiller said.   

According to BeMiller during the finance committee meeting on Wednesday, May 18, the city used one-time American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA ) monies to fund programs such as Mitigation Site Operations and Crisis Response Unit Expansion in 2022, which they know would be ongoing operations.

BeMiller explained in a message to The JOLT: “the City funded the expense for certain activities in 2022 using one-time funding sources.  Since those activities are on-going, the bow wave is created by needing to find on-going resources to continue to fund those activities in 2023 and beyond.”

The “bow wave” metaphor refers to the wave effect made by a ship travelling through water. The Wikipedia definition of the term is: “A large bow wave slows the ship down, is a risk to smaller boats, and in a harbor can damage shore facilities and moored ships.” In a city budget, these smaller boats, shore facilities and moored ships are other city programs.

“The ones that are going to hit us for 2023 are Crisis Response Unit Expansion, Rapid Response Team, Scattered Site Homeless Response, and some of the continued climate programs support,” City Manager Jay Burney said, adding “most everything on the [ARPA funded] list is facing us in 2023 and we are going to have to find our way through.”

BeMiller said future bow waves include:

  • Mitigation Site Operations - $650,000
  • Crisis Response Unit Expansion - $274,000
  • Body Camera (OPD) - $600,000
  • Rapid Response Team - $94,500
  • Climate Program Support - $100,000
  • Scattered Site Homeless Response - $150,000
  • Solid Waste and Portable Restroom contracts - $400,000

Burney said that the city still has ARPA funds for Olympia Police District’s body-worn camera and video-car system equipment.  

The city manager said the city’s climate program might create some bow waves. “If we are going to meet those goals, we have to spend some more money in the program to get more support and launch other programs that are going to need oversight.”

Burney added that he wants to include funding for Scattered Site Homeless Response support positions to help Kim Conrad, the city’s Homeless Response coordinator and keep the team moving forward. 

“It is difficult to go back to just Kim trying to do this work herself. We will have to find some funding for that team and the Rapid Response Team,” explained Burney

Burney shared what he learned from the meeting at the Washington State Department of Commerce that the State is talking about how they will roll out some money, through legislation, for a homeless response. 

“There is an operating component, where they are providing some level of funding and support for ongoing operations at any sites that provide temporary or permanent supportive housing,” he said. 

Burney added Olympia’s mitigation site operations could be potential candidates or eligible for the funds. 

“One of the things I learned through the meeting with Commerce is any money that you get for the ongoing operations it is not one-time money,” Burney said. “They are hoping to make this ongoing support, which gets recouped in the future budget.”

“So that was really good news to hear.” remarked Burney. 


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  • bobkat

    Never-ending bottomless pit!

    Monday, May 23, 2022 Report this